Pair a simple penguin sensory bin with some engaging kids’ books for a fun winter learning activity! A fun addition to your winter activities for preschoolers.
Related: Winter Small World Play
In my opinion, sensory bins are a must in early childhood. Honestly, I think older children (and even adults!) can get a lot out of sensory play, too.
Here are just a few of the many benefits that can come from a good sensory bin:
- Sensory exploration
- Calming and self-regulation
- Math practice
- Science concepts
- Open-ended choices and creativity
I also love that sensory bins can be customizable, to fit your preschool themes and students’ interests. Just find an interesting sensory material and throw in some toys or objects based on your theme. To work on some additional preschool skills, you might want to add in some scoops, spoons, cups, or tongs for the children to work with. It’s as simple as that!
What are some of YOUR favorite aspects of sensory play?
Penguin Sensory Bin
Now let’s dive into putting together a snowy sensory bin with penguins. I think this idea would pair very well with a variety of preschool units and themes like Antarctic animals, penguins, or even just a broad winter theme.
Of course, penguins are so much fun that you can use this activity at any point during the year! Especially if you have children who are super interested in penguins.
Related: Snow Writing Tray
Snow Sensory Bin Materials
You really don’t need much to bring this sensory bin to life. You could always learn how to make fake snow of your own. But for this one, we chose to use instant snow powder, which definitely saved us some time. Here are all of the materials that we used:
Related: Arctic Sensory Bin
You can definitely change up what you use as the snow base for this sensory play invitation. Instant snow adds a fun aspect to the bin, but shredded paper or even cotton balls would work well.
How to Set Up a Penguin Sensory Bin
Before getting started, I would highly recommend having the children help you set up this snowy sensory tub. Kids enjoy helping out, and they get more invested in their play when they’ve had a hand in assembling it.
Start off by preparing the instant snow. To do so, follow the directions on the instant snow powder product that you’ve purchased. The one we used had us add one scoop of powder to every two ounces of water. Let the “snow” fluff up and then add it to your sensory tub, spreading it out as you go.
After that, place the penguins in various places throughout the snow. If you’d rather leave the penguins to the side of the bin, that works too. The children can add and subtract the penguins as they see fit.
Once the penguins are in the container, add any additional props and tools you’d like. Clear plastic cups, spoons, scoops, sifters, and even some loose parts would all be great additions.
Penguin Sensory Fun
Once the snowy bin is assembled, review your sensory play rules with the kids. I also suggest placing something underneath the bin (a sheet, a mat, etc.) to catch any “snow” that falls out.
Then it’s time to let the children play in the penguin sensory bin! You’ll likely see a wide variety of play within the bin, depending on your students.
There will be scooping, pouring, and exploring the pretend snow with little hands. Some children will be more focused on the “snow” than anything else, and that’s okay. If they want to remove the penguins and just play with the snow, that is perfectly fine.
Some children will be all about the pretend play, telling fun stories and interacting with the penguins. They might have the penguins go on a trek or slide down ice in Antarctica. Other kids might enjoy burying or hiding the penguins for their friends to find.
Since this activity is open-ended, the kids’ imaginations really set the groundwork for how they choose to play. I know I always get a kick out of observing, listening, and even playing with the kids as they explore sensory bins like this one.
Related: Arctic Animals Preschool Printables
Penguin Books for Kids
I love pairing different activities with children’s books. As I’d mentioned earlier, this penguin sensory bin pairs well with a theme focused on the Antarctic animals. There are also tons of cute penguin books for kids, both fiction and non-fiction!
So I gathered a list of penguin books you might want to read with the children. Some are fiction, and some are nonfiction. You can decide what to read based on your lesson plans, or just what you think your students will like. Here are some of my favorites to share with the children:
Do you have any favorite penguin books? I’m always on the lookout for more children’s book ideas.
A Few More Penguin Activities
Here are a few more ideas you can pair with the penguin sensory bin:
Marble Painted Penguins from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
Penguin Sensory Bottle from Teaching Mama
Footprint Penguin Art from Fun Handprint Art
Penguin Hop Counting Game from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Making Patterns with Penguins from School Time Snippets
Done-For-You Preschool Resources
Lesson planning can take up so much of your time, and sometimes that means working during your free time . That’s where Preschool Teacher 101 comes in – with tons of engaging and developmentally appropriate preschool lesson plans!
Click on the image below to learn more about our penguin lesson plans!
For even more preschool lessons and activities, check out some of our other cold-weather related resources. Click on the images to learn more about each resource.
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